Obama Won't Repair Your Car

The conservative blogosphere is indulging itself in a bit of snark over this part of Obama's auto-industry speech:

[I]n case there are still nagging doubts, let me say it as plainly as I can -- if you buy a car from Chrysler or General Motors, you will be able to get your car serviced and repaired, just like always. Your warranty will be safe.

In fact, it will be safer than it's ever been. Because starting today, the United States government will stand behind your warranty.

"Expect that same excellent service that you have grown to love from your local DMV," says Gateway Pundit, tongue planted firmly in cheek. Ed Morrissey raced his way to the same gag a few hours later, with even more delicate sarcasm: "This is great news -- for fans of the DMV." (Italics in the original -- in case you missed the joke.) More high quality snark here, here and here.

But I doubt any of these people has actually read the plan.


If they did, they would realize that the warranty program does not put the government in the business of making auto repairs. The program merely creates a cash account to fund future repairs. The accounts will be run through a third-party -- described in the white paper as a "company" --  that has the sole purpose of picking a new warranty service provider for all of a participating automaker's warranties if the company goes bust.

All of this is private industry, avoid-the-government-type stuff. The only thing the government provides is the money. The white paper (pdf) suggests that at no stage in the process will an individual car owner have to interact with, look at, or think about anybody who works for the government.

Which must be disappointing. For fans of the DMV.

Presented by

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. More

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism, an economics blog that was recently published in book form by Simon and Schuster. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. He is also on Twitter.

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